Today we are so excited to finally share the new album from TOPOGRAPHIES, the brooding and romantic “Ideal Form“. Across the 8 tracks, reverb drenched guitars shimmer over taut drum machines and rubbery basslines, providing a perfect backdrop for the poetic musings of bandleader Gray Tolhurst. Fans of contemporary post-punk and goth pop will find plenty to enjoy, as Ideal Form places Topographies in league with artists like Choir Boy and Boy Harsher. To celebrate, we have teamed up with the band to give you their top 10 records that inspired “Ideal Form”, along with the band’s special commetary oneach and every piece. Find it below.
The group’s debut is available via Funeral Party Records, the blossoming Kentucky label responsible for releases by True Body, Fearing, Soft Kill, Nothing, Death Bells and more.
Tolhurst is the son of former Cure drummer/keyboardist Laurence Tolhurst, so it’s no wonder the group have a fascination with chorus soaked guitars and deceptively catchy hooks, though they undoubtedly deliver a refreshingly modern take on the classic sound, placing them alongside other breakout groups like Choir Boy, Black Marble, etc.
Topographies is a post-punk/ shoegaze band formed in 2018 in San Francisco by Justin Oronos, Jeremie Ruest, and Gray Tolhurst. The band merges the lockstep rhythms and pulsing synths of 80s coldwave and post-punk (taking cues from bands like Asylum Party and The Chameleons) with the lush guitar work and hazy textures of shoegaze. Topographies has shared stages throughout the US with contemporaries Soft Kill, Tennis System, Fearing, and Be Forest, and has released two 7” records (including one on venerable British label Sonic Cathedral) as well as a cassette EP, Difference and Repetition with San Diego’s DREAM Recordings .
The band’s debut LP Ideal Form, set to be released on Funeral Party Records in autumn 2020, synthesizes and clarifies the band’s aesthetic in eight drum-machine and synth heavy tracks, accompanied by Ruest’s ethereal guitar work, the nimble basslines of Oronos, and Tolhurst’s poetic lyrics. The album was engineered and produced by Chris King (also a member of LA-based band, Cold Showers) and mastered by Rafael Anton Irisarri at Black Knoll Studios in New York. Tolhurst (whose early exposure to music came from his father Laurence Tolhurst, drummer/keyboardist of The Cure) draws on his dual fascinations of independent music and 20th century poetry to craft songs and lyrics that seek to explore the complex map of occurrences that situate and shape a life. Ideal Form is concerned with the projections human beings place upon experience and the impossibility of a perfectly realized existence.
The album is available through Funeral Party Records.
Top 10 Albums that inspired “Ideal Form” by TOPOGRAPHIES:
1. Borderline – Asylum Party
This is probably the number one influence for us on our album. The driving drum machines, ethereal interlocking guitars, the melodic pulsing basslines, the subtle synth textures. All of it really. My favorite so-called “French Coldwave” album. It’s not really cold though, it’s maybe the warmest, most rich cold wave album of them all. It doesn’t sound like anything else really. I listen to it like once a week and am blown away every single time.
2. Script of the Bridge- The Chameleons
I heard somewhere the Chameleons were described as creating “sonic cathedrals”. I don’t exactly know what aspect of architecture the reviewer was talking about but for me the interlocking guitars and bass, feeding off one another has a sculptural quality. I can see the music.
3. Faith- The Cure
The question has come up in multiple interviews, asked either bluntly or with a kind of “sorry I have to ask” kind of way. Yes, we like The Cure. If I were to choose an album it would be Faith for it’s starkness, its moody textures. I think the album cover captures the tone of the album perfectly, gray and washed out loneliness.
4. Common Era- Belong
We love Belong’s albums and this one is a really fresh take on 80s stuff. It feels like a cassette you’d find buried in the bottom of your car, unlabeled, no case. Who the hell made this? Glistening, spectral, music from a decaying dream.
5. Public Strain- Women
This is one we really bonded over. It’s kind of Beach Boys psychedelia meets cold post-punk. I’ve wanted to rip off “Can’t You See” forever, just hissing feedback and bass.
6. Choke – Soft Kill
We love Soft Kill. They make incredible music and are also the nicest folks around. A rare combination. I think for me the influential points of this album are the earnestness of the lyrics and vocals and the uncompromising minimalism of the compositions. Yet they’re still pop songs and get stuck in my head which I think is necessary. I broke my glasses at a Soft Kill show in Oakland and spent the entire set blind, lost in fog. It was glorious.
7. A Year With 13 Moons- Jefre Cantu-Ledesma
Jefre’s music is incredible, its like deconstructed shoegaze/ ambient/noise etc. That oversimplifies it. It is gorgeous and it has a special resonance for me because he worked with one of my favorite San Francisco artists, the late filmmaker Paul Clipson. It reminds me the world is beautiful and true if you just look.
8. Technique- New Order
My new favorite New Order album. I love the tension between acoustic and electric instrumentation and there’s like 8 hits on it. I’m really into how the bass acts as a melodic instrument. I read Peter Hook’s books and I guess he had trouble with the electronic direction so he had to struggle to get his bass lines into the music but they’re really the best thing about the albums for me.
9. Turn On The Bright Lights- Interpol
Can’t really do this without mentioning Interpol. I first heard this album being picked up by my parents from LAX. It sounded exactly like the lights on the freeway through the glass of our car. I’ve never got the Joy Division comparison which I think is pretty lazy. This album really made me want to play guitar. I think it’s one that all of us in Topographies found really meaningful at one point or another.
10. Evening Star- Fripp and Eno
The best guitar sounds/lines of any any album. I never tire of this record. It’s a bit disorienting but it’s kind of like a warm bath. You slip into it.
“a relentlessly assured document of glassy synth-rock, brooding new-wave and ambitious Britpop that feels like a lifetime in the making” – SF WEEKLY
“a lush tempestuous deluge of shoegaze and dreampop” – POST-PUNK
“Topographies craft yet another beautiful modern update on nostalgic goth-pop” – IMPOSE MAGAZINE